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Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Protest Conviction has Been Overturned
Celebrated Zimbabwean author Titsi Dangarembga has had her conviction overturned.
It’s a good day for Tsitsi Dangarembga, because according to reports, the Zimbabwean author has had her conviction overturned after she was accused of inciting violence by staging a peaceful protest.
In September 2022, Dangarembga, was convicted of inciting violence after she staged a peaceful protest calling for political reform. Alongside fellow activist Julie Barnes, Dangarembga held a placard inscribed with "We want better. Reform our institutions" during the 2020 protest. This spiraled into a months-long controversy that seems to be simmering down. On Monday, May 8th, the high court in Harare overturned the verdict and cleared her of any wrongdoing. Dangarembga's six-month suspended sentence and a fine of 70,000 Zimbabwean dollars were also lifted. Her lawyer Chris Mhike stated that the full judgment is yet to be released.
“Eventually, justice prevailed in this case. It is most unfortunate that it took so long for Tsitsi and Julie to be set free. Be that as it may, this vindication from the high court is most welcome,” Mhike said.
Months before now, several organizations, including Amnesty International and the writers’ association Pen International — an ally for Dangarembga — had called for the charges against her to be dropped.
During a period when the government honed in on human rights campaigners, including the arrest of investigative journalist Hopewell Chin'ono, Dangarembga was also arrested. Chin'ono, who was arrested three times between 2020 and 2021 after criticizing the government of Zimbabwe for being corrupt, stated to The Guardian that both he and Dangarembga were being persecuted for standing up to "tyranny, corruption and the abuse of the rule of law."
“The acquittal of Tsitsi Dangarembga and Julie Barnes is another testimony of how the rule of law has broken down in the magistrates court,” said Chin’ono.
In light of Dangarembga’s conviction, critics fear that with the Zimbabwe presidential election coming up, freedom of speech will be stifled. This is a developing story.
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